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Hackers claim to have Romney’s tax returns, will release Sept 28 unless paid ransom

Sep 5, 2012

If this claim turns out to be true, it’ll mark the first time a presidential candidate has been held hostage by information.

A hacker group has just posted a notice to Pastebin that claims they’ve obtained Mitt Romney’s pre-2010 tax returns, and is demanding $1M in Bitcoins to destroy them, or else they’ll make them public on September 28.

Mashable notes the group describes an apparently undetected information heist from the PricewaterhouseCooper office in Franklin, TN, where they say they gained access through an employee on the third floor. “During the night, suite 260 was entered, and all available 1040 tax forms for Romney were copied.”

The group says it has sent encrypted flash drives with the tax returns to the Democratic Committee office in the county, and that it will do the same to the GOP office and to “all major news media outlets.”

If PricewaterhouseCooper fails to pay the ransom, the group says it will release public keys to decrypt the flash drives on September 28, and Romney’s tax returns will be made available everywhere. But that’s not all: the group has created a second Bitcoin account for those who want Romney’s returns to be released immediately. They say they will release or destroy the tax returns immediately based on whichever account receives $1 million first.

This puts the Romney campaign in an insanely tricky position: Either PricewaterhouseCooper pays the ransom, and the hackers will have reduced the Romney campaign to negotiating with information terrorists (and you know these guys will release proof of payment) or they have to wait it out and hope the group is bluffing.

“Whoever is the winner does not matter to us,” the group says.

At the bottom of the note, they also seem to provide some encoded information meant to tell PricewaterhouseCooper that they’re not bluffing:

Reference to avoid Fakes that only you will have.
1.all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty
2.he moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father

Based on the success of hackers over the past year, I’m guessing these guys are not bluffing.

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